Kia Lockhart has been introduced as the new Site Director for Communities in Schools at the Milford Central Academy. Starting the position at the beginning of this academic year, Ms. Lockhart has been working alongside the Milford School District to improve the areas of academics, attendance and discipline among students in 8th and 9th grade.
Communities In Schools (CIS) helps develop a plan for local schools and individual children based on assessments and communications with those local schools. They act as a point of contact for the schools to direct the most needed services for students. CIS focuses on dealing with issues in the community and among families so that the schools and children can focus on their school work.
Ms. Lockhart has implemented the Communities in Schools model in Charlotte, North Carolina and plans to continue the success in the Milford School District.
“The school I was involved with in North Carolina was known for its low performance and had a problem with gangs,” commented Kia. “By working with these students and giving them a consistent role model in their lives, we were able to create opportunities for them that they had thought impossible before.”
With a mixture of public and private funding, Communities in Schools works closely with schools, social services, businesses and volunteers to get young people the things they need to learn and grow: mentors and tutors, after-school help, family services to stabilize the home. They use prominent members of the community to help students achieve these basic supports; increasing their ability to succeed and grow into productive adults.
“There are not many programs that help students at this age,” commented Jim Purcell, President of Communities in Schools. Most of the funding is focused on children in Elementary or High School levels, however, 8th and 9th grade is a big transitional stage for most children. This is really the age where kids start to think about dropping out.”
To date, 32 Central Academy students have been chosen to participate in a life skills class that will assist them by monitoring their grades, attendance, and behavior. By creating a consistent, positive presence in their every day lives, the students will develop the ability to improve their performances in these areas. The Communities in Schools Program hopes to expand the number of targeted students to double the size of the current group.
School-wide preventative programs will be put into place to help the entire students body at the Central Academy. For the month of February Ms. Lockhart has invited Ashley Graham, a plus-sized model, to visit the school to talk about body image to the girls in 8th and 9th grade. Communities in Schools is also working with the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Milford to bring in local businessmen and women to talk with kids about career opportunities in the surrounding area.
Presidents of Communities in Schools, Jim Purcell, hopes that the success of the program in the Central Academy will result in an expansion of its services to students across the Milford School District.